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Determinism and backcasting in future studies
KTH, Superseded Departments, Infrastructure and Planning.
KTH, Superseded Departments, Infrastructure and Planning.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9507-9185
2000 (English)In: Futures: The journal of policy, planning and futures studies, ISSN 0016-3287, E-ISSN 1873-6378, Vol. 32, no 7, 613-634 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this paper, four frequently cited approaches to future studies are criticised. We use examples mainly from the field of transport research. The first approach is the tendency to try to establish cyclic behaviour in socio-technical changes. The second is the view that transport and communication are positively correlated. The third is the so-called 'hypothesis of constant travel time', according to which, the average daily travel time of a population is more or less stable. The fourth is the alleged causal relationship between urban density and petrol use. The use of these approaches is criticised for a number of reasons, among others for over-simplifying the underlying mechanisms and for being too deterministic. In cases where drastic change is needed, current trends must be broken, but perhaps through measures other than those indicated by the above approaches. In other words, the cited approaches may overlook interesting opportunities and fail to urge necessary action. Backcasting is put forward as a more promising approach, especially for situations where great change is needed, However, it has been found in this study that backcasting and different forecasting approaches an complementary. The argument is that backcasting is mainly appropriate where current trends art: leading towards an unfavourable state. Therefore, forecasting methods are necessary because they inform the backcaster when backcasting is required. Finally, the paper discusses the use of different models in planning, primarily in the context of their role in the path analyses of backcasting scenarios.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2000. Vol. 32, no 7, 613-634 p.
Keyword [en]
forecasting method, future prospect, methodology
National Category
Engineering and Technology
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-13400DOI: 10.1016/S0016-3287(00)00012-4ISI: 000088667400001OAI: diva2:325060
QC 20100617Available from: 2010-06-17 Created: 2010-06-17 Last updated: 2012-04-27Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. What is the Point of IT?: Backcasting urban transport and land-use futures
Open this publication in new window or tab >>What is the Point of IT?: Backcasting urban transport and land-use futures
2000 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

Sustainable development, future studies, informationtechnology, urban land-use and passenger transport. These arethe five concepts upon which this thesis and the eight papersit contains are based. The thesis includes both a developmentof future studies methodology, especially with regard tobackcasting, and analyses of the relationship betweensustainable development, information technology, transport andland-use in future cities

Paper I (Gudmundsson&Höjer, 1996) suggests foursustainable development principles and discusses theimplications of these four principles for the transportsystem.

Paper II (Höjer&Mattsson, 2000) is amethodological paper where backcasting is discussed in relationto some other future studies approaches. Moreover, the use of anumber of common empirical approaches in such studies iscriticised for being too deterministic.

Paper III (Höjer, 1997) presents a study where fourtechnical scenarios of intelligent transport systems weregenerated and evaluated. The evaluation used a Delphi-inspiredbackcasting approach, where a total of some 100 internationalexperts contributed to a two-round survey.

Paper IV (Höjer, 1998a) highlights three of thescenarios generated in Paper III and elaborates some resultsfrom the evaluation of them.

Paper V (Steen et al., 1999) uses assumptions, based onother studies, regarding global future energy supply as well ason the development of vehicle technology and traffic volumes.Based on these, a scenario of a sustainable transport systemfor Sweden in 2040 is developed.

Paper VI (Höjer, 2000b) looks at how the patterns ofcommuting and land-use can change with new organisationalforms. The change can either contribute to reduced trafficvolumes and a more sustainable transport system, or it can leadsociety even further into unsustainability.

Paper VII (Höjer, 2000a) reports from a calculation ofpotential effects on commuting from a change towards anode-structured Stockholm region. The calculation is based onorigin-destination matrices generated from a traffic analysismodel.

Paper VIII (Höjer, 1996) is a generalising analyticalpaper on the relationship between information technology,especially transport telematics, and sustainabledevelopment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH, 2000. xi, 37 p.
Trita-IP. FR, 00-72
transport land-use information technology sustainable development
National Category
Engineering and Technology
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-3016 (URN)
Public defence
2000-09-22, 00:00
QC 20100617Available from: 2000-09-19 Created: 2000-09-19 Last updated: 2010-06-17Bibliographically approved

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